Fraud

EFCC arraigns Saraki’s aide, others over alleged N3.5bn fraud

A Federal High Court Lagos, on Wednesday, ordered the remand in custody of Gbenga Makanjuola, an aide to Senate President Bukola Saraki, over alleged N3.5 billion fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had preferred an 11 count charge against Makanjuola, Obiorah Amobi and a company, Melrose General Services Ltd, bordering on fraud allegations.

They, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Following their arraignment, EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Ekene Iheanacho, asked that the accused be remanded in prison, and also sought for a trial date.

Responding, Makanjuola’s lawyer, Mr Paul Erokoro (SAN), drew the court’s attention to a bail application on behalf of the first accused.

He said that the application has been served on the prosecution and sought the court’s permission to move it.

Similar request was also made by other defence lawyer.

Arguing his application, Erokoro said that the accused was a former member of the House of Representatives and as such prepared to face trial.

“My client is a full-time staff at the Senate and is not a flight risk.

“He was a member of the House of Representatives; I urge the court to grant him bail to prepare for his trial”, he said.

Other defence counsel also pleaded with the court to admit the other accused to bail on liberal terms.

Meanwhile, in his response, EFCC’s lawyer, Iheanacho, urged the court to dismiss the bail applications on the grounds that the accused constitutes flight risks.

“One of the defendants have absconded; the chances that the other defendants will abscond are now higher with their arraignment.

“We urge the court to refuse the defence requests for bail,” he said.

After listening to the submissions of counsel in the matter, Justice Babs Kuewumi adjourned the case until Oct 9. for ruling on the bail applications.

He, however, ordered that the accused be remanded until determination of their bails.

In the charge, the accused were alleged to have committed the offence in December 2016.

They were said to have conspired to disguise the unlawful origin of the sum of N3.5 billion paid into the account of Melrose.

According to the prosecution, the accused took control of the sum which was transferred from the Nigeria’s Governors Forum account, into an Access Bank account operated by Melrose.

The prosecution said that the accused ought to have known that the sum represented proceeds of unlawful activities.

The offences contravenes the provisions of sections 15, 15 (2), 15(3), 18, and 18 (a) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Amendment Act 2011.

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